Competing Choices

by Kemetia Foley, CAP, OM

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Do you remember the scene in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” when Andy, Miranda Priestly’s assistant, fights with her boyfriend Nate because she missed his birthday for a work function? Can you relate to that scene at all? Have you missed an important family function or canceled your very own self-care appointment in order to complete work or stay at work?

It happens.

We do have choices. We may not like the choices we have, but we do have them.

Standing in the middle of a work-life tsunami of demands leaves us exhausted and some days with a bit of brain fog. It’s okay. I promise it happens to most people. The question now becomes, what to do about it?

Have you ever considered stress-planning? I call taking a proactive approach to preparing our minds and bodies for well-known times for work stress, stress-planning.

Let’s take the example of the company annual meeting, and hone in on a single stressor surrounding this annual event: Schedule conflict due to work and family obligation on the same date.

What steps can be taken to take a proactive approach to prepare ourselves for this common stressor?

You and yourself need to have a little talk. Self-talk.

Seriously. You know this problem is going to happen. Acknowledge it. Accept it for what it is. Some careers have more of this type of challenge. Denial is not your friend here.

Give plenty of advance notice.

Provide your family or friends with plenty of advance notice and ASK what alternate date you can celebrate with them. Or, are they okay with you arriving late?

Conversely, is this something a coworker can cover on your behalf? If so, make your case to the powers that be, and of course be willing to return the favor.

Be a master calendar freak.

The number of work vs. family obligation conflicts can be reduced when you are downright adamant about putting everything on a single calendar/planner in advance.

Being proactive here is vital. Meditate on this thought. If you repeatedly have family/work obligation conflicts, and it’s making you unhappy or instigating passive-aggressive responses at work, ponder your choices. To quote the song lyrics by Neil Peart (RUSH) “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”


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Catch Kemetia and other spectacular speakers at IAAP Summit 2019 in National Harbor, Maryland (just a short distance from Washington D.C.). Find out why IAAP Summit is the go-to conference for office and administrative professionals year-in and year-out.

2 thoughts on “Competing Choices

  1. I do appreciate the idea of planning ahead for these times. In the movie, I was disappointed that her boyfriend was so negative about her role. She made it clear she was in it for a year so she could have other opportunities. While we need to be cognizant of how our busy seasons affect our family and friends, it’s also good to have supportive family and friends that understand these times and allow us to do the juggling act needed to get through that event/season.

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  2. Family and personal life is #1. Work comes and goes, punch in and punch out on time. An organization is not going to fall apart if some staff don’t attend an annual event or stay late because of poor planning. If a company does not respect your choice to be with your family and take care of your wellbeing then it’s not a company you should stay at.

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